This wasn’t my first visit to Loch Leven, a national nature reserve located beside Kinross in the Kingdom of Fife (most people would say Fife, but Fifers* say the Kingdom of Fife). I’d been here before once with my wife Cathryn (a.k.a. turfer ChoccyMuffin) to take a boat trip out to Castle Island and once with my Swifty Air kick scooter to circumnavigate the path running the 13 miles around the loch. It’s called the Loch Leven Heritage Trail. No zones here back then. More on that visit here. The idea for today’s visit followed an interesting series of links. We are in the process of getting a small porch built around our front door. After getting some totally ridiculous quotes, and settling for one that was only very slightly less ridiculous, we got the ball rolling and the architect was visiting to take measurements and check out levels.
We discussed various matters building wise (I used to be a Quantity Surveyor, so was probably annoying him) which led to the issues of building warrant and planning permission, which in turn led to looking at whether the porch would exceed the 50% permitted development of the curtilage area of the property. The architect noted this included slabbed areas which I mentioned were originally for wheeling my motorcycle to the shed. This led us to talking about bicycles, he asked if I’d cycled round Loch Leven. I mentioned I’d kick scooted round and showed him the Swifty Air kick scooter. And that was why I can to choose Loch Leven as my destination. So, I better give my apologies to Féarglas for taking all the zones she took the night before. It wasn’t deliberate, honest!
There are various places to park a car around the loch, with the main ones being in Kinross at the boathouse and Kirkgate Park, and also at RSPB Loch Leven to the south. I opted for Kirkgate Park though took a few wrong turns trying to find the entrance from the High Street. Tip: you want Burns-Begg Street located opposite zone Kinross. I chose this area as I planned to turf the zones in Kinross after completed the circuit of the loch and it offered a good start and finish location.
I did think of bringing the bicycle today but with the path being mostly flat other than two short uphill sections at RSPB Loch Leven, it was just about perfect for kick scooting. I say “just” about perfect. It would be perfect if the graded hard-core path was in better condition. Heavy use and weather have taken their toll in places, removing a lot of the fines from the surface, leaving only the larger pieces of gravel. If cycling, I would recommend good-sized tyres, with tyre pressures on the low side for added comfort.
There are 26 zones dotted around the loch, all easily taken from the shore path and none with any problem what-so-ever with GPS or mobile signal. But don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with mentioning each and every one of them. Just a few highlights. I kicked off around 10.00 am, the sun was beginning to burn off the cloud cover and it looked like turning out to be a pretty good day. It was still cool in the wind but a t-shirt and light fleece seemed ideal for the conditions. I always tend to carry far too much clothing with me, with most usually ending up with most stuffed into the pannier.
I wasn’t the only visitor on the trail this morning and I had plenty of company at times though not so busy as to be too busy. All the usual suspects, people out for a morning stroll, elderly ladies with packs of yapping micro-pooches, overweight men in too-tight Lycra running to get fit and loose some flab, attractive ladies in tight leggings whom I cannot resist a second look and almost fall off the scooter. Then there’s the e-cyclists blasting though without a care, looking smug and simply annoying people. There was even a trio on low-rider three-wheelers. They were as impressed with my kick scooter as I was with their trikes. At one corner I stopped to allow an older couple of cyclists to pass and the lady said “Hello Gary” but didn’t stop and I have no idea who she was.
There are a couple of uphill sections along the trail, one approaching RSPB Loch Leven and another after that on the climb to the zone East Brackley Viewpoint (cracking views but a cold wind). On a bicycle both are an easy climbs but not so on a kick scooter. You can try but get dead legs after a few meters, better to get off and walk. Anyway, good to give tired muscles a change of use. The 13 mile circuit took me around two hours on the kick scooter but could be done quicker if I’d not stopped so often to take photographs for the blog.
The path downhill from East Brackley Viewpoint was very eroded and a bit dodgy on the kick scooter, so better to walk. There was one zone I couldn’t take and that was zone Lochleven, located on Castle Island. The castle is currently closed due to high level masonry inspections. Time for lunch. Then the 20 zones in Kinross, if my legs don’t seize up while I’m sitting on the bench. More in Part 2.
*Fifers – someone who hails from the Kingdom of Fife.
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